Village name changing and more

If it’s one thing I hate, that’s name changes on villages. Around my mountain village (”????a S??????”) there are many other small villages which their name changed in the last 20-30 years. Apparently, driven by a wave of nationalism, Greece changed all names of places that their words were not derived by Greek words, but instead they were either turkish or albanian or even, just village-greek. Some examples from the villages around my own:

Rousatsa became Polystafyllon (means “many grapes” in Greek — that’s where olympic sprinter Katerina Thanou is from)
Zarmi became Vrysoula (”small water fountain” — that’s where Gousis who betrayed the Souliotes was from)
Koritiani became Trikastron (”three castles” — its history goes back 2,300 years)
Koutsari became Kato Revmatia (”southern wave”)
Gionala became Pano Revmatia (”northern wave”)
Podhogora became Rizovounion (”root mountain”)
Nassari became Assos (”ace”)
Kantzas became Stefani (”tyre”)

To prove this misguided nationalism, my very own village, Skiadas, never changed its name because its name was always Greek (”at Hades’ shadow”). It really hurts me seeing this mania that wipes out anything that doesn’t represent the Greek belief system, even if the place I am from most of the time was not 100% Greek but it usually belonged to the Illyrians (here’s a better map): the whole region was speaking an ancient form of Albanian at the time (some old *greek* ladies in Preveza still do when they are chatting away), the southern side was doing some trading with Greeks and they had some influenses from the Greek 12-God religion, but they had mixed it with their own paganistic cults (sex with snakes and other stuff like that, just as Great Alexander’s mother did, as she was an Illyrian who married a Macedonian). Of course, if I go now to any of the Greek people living there now (including my own family who are direct descentants of the heroic Souliotes — Greeks now understand why I am such a bitch who never shuts up) and tell them that after all these years they are probably not pure Greeks and maybe they never were, they will excommunicate me and strip me of their will. They don’t even wanna hear that the ancient Greeks only considered Greeks people from the southern Greece and some islands. They were reffering to the Illyrians and Macedones as “barbarians” (despite their compatibility in religion and other matters) and they didn’t wanna let them take part in their Olympics. Corinthians had some colonies in the southern Illyria region (Dodoni, Appolonia, Amvrakia etc), but the main population (mostly clans living in huts) were Illyrians. They only became “part of the club” many hundrends of years later, after the whole Byzantium had become Christian and Greek became the official language (and everyone had to speak it in the kingdom). But in the Greece of today, nationalism has won: you are a true Greek only if you are a Christian Orthodox (and only Orthodox) and you can trace back your geneology within the *current* Greek borders. If you happen to have a Greek passport and be a Greek citizen, that doesn’t automatically make you “hellenic” in their eyes. This is how they think they “keep their national identity”. I call it racism and anti-democratic.

Don’t get me wrong. Do I feel Greek? Yes. Do I love Greece? Yes, with all my heart. I was reading about Kolokotronis yesterday on Wikipedia and started crying. I am not shitting you. I was crying by the time my husband came back from work (and I even registered a wikipedia account so I can write an article about hero Odysseas Androutsos as there was none listed there). But, as we say in my place: “ta s??a s??a, ?a? ta ?a??d?a ?a??d?a”. It is more important for me to be objective and know who I am (or who I am not), rather than fall into blind nationalism and common myths. Because then, and only then, I can truly help my country to get through the 21st century, even from far away.

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Nikos Dimou wrote on May 27th, 2006 at 5:48 AM PST:

This is an old story – it started 150 years ago in an attempt to prove wrong the allegations of the German scholar Fallmereyer who maintained that modern Greeks are not “pure”. His main argument was that most Greek villages, mountains, rivers, etc had slav or albanian names.

So Vostitsa was called Aigion and Boyiati Ayios Stefanos. More than 500 names changed during the second half of the 19th century…and the beat goes on.

Hugo wrote on May 29th, 2006 at 12:10 PM PST:

It’s weird, i’m Portuguese, my home town is called Évora (, I have no idea what Évora means because the original name was Celtic (Lusitanian) and portuguese is now a latin language thanks to the those pesky romans.
Most town names here mean nothing in portuguese because they originate from other languages, some of which are now dead (like lusitanian), others because we killed all their speakers (like moorish) and even latin names don’t mean anything to most people because portuguese is by now much different from the original latin.
Hell, even my family name means nothing in portuguese because it’s visigothic.

katerina wrote on August 26th, 2006 at 1:17 AM PST:

Eugenia, hi. My name is Katerina, I live in Thessaloniki, Greece. My mother is from a small village near Paramythia -it’s called Saloniki. My grandmother’s last name was Charkovista (?sa???ß?sta – I don’t know how to spell it in latin charachters), not greek at all, as you can see. Of course my mother says her family is greek and she would’n’t want to hear anything that would question this belief. My groadmother died at the age of 25, so even my mother could not have any direct information about her roots. While searching the internet, I run into a page which wrote that ?sa???ß?sta or ?sa???ß?tsa was the former name of the area that is now called Lakka Souliou. If this is true, I’d suppose that my grondmother’s family moved from this area to Saloniki, and the surname they were given showed the place where they came from. So, have you ever heard that Charkovitsa was Lakka’s old name? And what could this name mean? Does it seem mostly slavic or albanian? My grandmother was born around 1922. What was happening during that period in those areas? Ok, the questions are already too many, I’d appreciate any help. If there iw any related bibliography that you have in mind, please let me know.
Thanks a lot and forgive my bad english.

This is the admin speaking...
Eugenia wrote on August 26th, 2006 at 5:51 AM PST:

Hi Katerina, I just asked my parents, they don’t know of this name in the area…

Leandro wrote on September 21st, 2006 at 3:05 AM PST:

Hi, im Leandro, from Albania. Charkovista doesn’t sound at all Albanian to me so it is probably Slavic.

Eugenia i have to admit you are one of the VERY FEW Greeks who admit the truth, that Greek governments did their best to hellenise, often in non peaceful fashion, the Albanian and Slavic populations (mostly Bulgarian) so that today they can claim that “there are no minorities in Greece”.

Funny stuff.

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